from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Zoology The respiratory organ of most aquatic animals that breathe water to obtain oxygen, consisting of a filamentous structure of vascular membranes across which dissolved gases are exchanged.
  • n. The wattle of a bird. Often used in the plural.
  • n. Informal The area around the chin and neck.
  • n. Botany One of the thin, platelike structures on the underside of the cap of a mushroom or similar fungus.
  • transitive v. To catch (fish) in a gill net.
  • transitive v. To gut or clean (fish).
  • intransitive v. To become entangled in a gill net. Used of fish.
  • idiom to the gills Informal As full as possible; completely.
  • n. A unit of volume or capacity in the U.S. Customary System, used in liquid measure, equal to 1/4 of a pint or four ounces (118 milliliters).
  • n. A unit of volume or capacity, used in dry and liquid measure, equal to 1/4 of a British Imperial pint (142 milliliters). See Table at measurement.
  • n. Chiefly British A ravine.
  • n. Chiefly British A narrow stream.
  • n. A girl, often one's sweetheart.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A breathing organ of fish and other aquatic animals.
  • n. A gill slit or gill cover.
  • n. One of the radial folds on the underside of the cap of a mushroom, on the surface of which the spore-producing organs are borne.
  • n. The fleshy flap that hangs below the beak of a fowl; a wattle.
  • n. The flesh under or about the chin; a wattle.
  • n. A drink measure for spirits and wine. Size varies regionally but it is about one quarter of a pint.
  • n. A measuring jug holding a quarter or half a pint.
  • n. rivulet
  • n. ravine

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An organ for aquatic respiration; a branchia.
  • n. The radiating, gill-shaped plates forming the under surface of a mushroom.
  • n. The fleshy flap that hangs below the beak of a fowl; a wattle.
  • n. The flesh under or about the chin.
  • n. One of the combs of closely ranged steel pins which divide the ribbons of flax fiber or wool into fewer parallel filaments.
  • n. A two-wheeled frame for transporting timber.
  • n. A leech.
  • n. A woody glen; a narrow valley containing a stream.
  • n. A measure of capacity, containing one fourth of a pint.
  • n. A young woman; a sweetheart; a flirting or wanton girl.
  • n. The ground ivy (Nepeta Glechoma); -- called also gill over the ground, and other like names.
  • n. Malt liquor medicated with ground ivy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To catch (fish) by the gills, as by means of a gill-net: as, gilled fish.
  • [In allusion to the parallel rows of filaments in a fish's gills.] In making worsted yarn, to make the fibers level and parallel with each other by drawing them through a gilling-machine.
  • To display the gills in swimming with the head partly out of water: as, mackerel go along gilling.
  • n. The breathing-organ of any animal that lives in the water.
  • n. Specifically, an organ in aquatic animals for the aërification of the blood through the medium of water; the respiratory apparatus of any animal that breathes the air which is mixed with water; by extension, a branchia, as of any invertebrate and of the ichthyopsidan vertebrates. See branchiæ.
  • n. Some part like or likened to a gill.
  • n. One of a number of radiating plates on the under side of the cap or pileus of a mushroom.
  • n. In entomology, the branchiæ or external breathing-organs of certain insectlarvæ.
  • n. A narrow valley; a ravine, especially one with a rapid stream running through it.
  • n. A corrugation or fold; a hollow, as in a sheet of metal.
  • n. A frame with a pair of wheels used for conveying timber.
  • n. Same as gill-frame.
  • n. A liquid measure, one fourth of a pint in the British and United States systems.
  • n. A pint of ale.
  • n. A girl; a sweetheart: used in familiarity or contempt, as either a proper or a common noun.
  • n. [Short for gill-creep-by-the-ground, or gillrun-over-the-ground, homely names for the plant, in which gill is a familiar application of the feminine name.] The ground-ivy, Nepeta Glechoma.
  • n. Same as gill-beer.
  • n. An English penny or quarter bit.
  • n. A fellow or ‘cove’: as, a queer gill.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. respiratory organ of aquatic animals that breathe oxygen dissolved in water
  • n. a British imperial capacity unit (liquid or dry) equal to 5 fluid ounces or 142.066 cubic centimeters
  • n. a United States liquid unit equal to 4 fluid ounces
  • n. any of the radiating leaflike spore-producing structures on the underside of the cap of a mushroom or similar fungus


Middle English gile, of Scandinavian origin.
Middle English gille, from Old French, wine measure, from Late Latin gillō, vessel for cooling liquids.
Middle English gille, from Old Norse gil.
Middle English gille, from Gille, a woman's name.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English gile ("gill"), from Old Norse giolnar ("lips") (Wiktionary)
From Middle English gille, from Old Norse gil (Wiktionary)



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  • Unit of measure (j-sound); fish respiratory organ (hard g).

    November 22, 2007